Guess what? Spelling matters!


In high school I tried out for the spelling team, but only because I really wanted a letter jacket.”
― Jarod Kintz

Definition: A framework on which fabric can be held taut for drying or other treatment during manufacture.

[ta(n) tay]
Definition: to tempt, attempt, try

So…who’s up for some “tenter” flat iron steak?

Wow. I have seen some whoppers in my day, but that one (see my photo above) was a big error. And if you look close, you will see another glaring mistake.

Words spelled incorrectly, phrases used in the wrong context – one can see these in newspapers, magazines, ads and so forth. They are nothing new. In fact, Jay Leno made a name for himself by airing some of these awful mistakes during his “Headlines” segment.

In an editing class I took about 10 years ago, our professor would give us extra credit for errors found on the front page of the paper where he was employed. Suffice to say, I received extra credit every week.

And that was a decade ago. Since that time, the errors seem to be getting worse.

Trust me, I will admit that I bend almost every grammatical rule in the English language. Yes, I end sentences with prepositions – I even start sentences that way! I make errors, letting my participles dangle for all to see. But no matter what I am working on, I always have someone read my work before I submit it. From newsletters to articles, they will be looked at before I send them off to an editor. Bless his heart, no matter where my husband is in the world, I send him my work and ask him to proofread. After he looks it over with fresh eyes, I am confident enough to send my work to an editor, and let a professional polish my words, making them presentable in print.

Errors will happen, but I think the reason they are so prevalent these days is that we are taking humans out of the equation. Print publishing has taken a huge smack in the finance department. Professional writers, like me, have seen pink slips and pay cuts. Many have changed careers, so the field of qualified proofreaders is shrinking. In the meantime, editors have become over-worked and underpaid. Therefore, mistakes are made.

My assumption is that corporations seeking to save a dollar have found it cheaper to use spelling and grammar software than to pay a professional who has a firm grasp of the English language. The cheaper-than-an-editor forms of copy editing and proofing ensure that the errors, which used to happen on occasion, now happen on a regular basis.

In my humble opinion, I find that this is a huge mistake.

Standards for our language have been edged out by electronic communications. Shortened words and phrases due to texts and Tweets make for an abbreviated form of the written language. And, may I add, this is spilling over into our verbal communication skills as well. But I digress.

So, excuse me while I jump up high here on my soapbox, as I want to share a few pointers with those who feel writers and editors are expendable:

– Spelling skills matter.
– Good writing is an art.
– Fact check before printing. One “Googled” source doesn’t count.
– Let a human proofread.
– Using slang? Don’t rely on reality television. Double check the term with Urban Dictionary for context.
– Using foreign terms? Look up spelling for those words and phrases, too.

If you are a business owner, pay for a professional writer to either write or proofread your company’s communications, to include email blasts, newsletters, Web content, Tweets and blogs.

Never underestimate the power of an English major. For, at the end of the day, we have a tenter tender heart for those who appreciate us.

Do spelling errors drive you crazy? Share in the comments section.
© Lynne Cobb -2013

14 Replies to “Guess what? Spelling matters!”

  1. Great article, Lynne. I used to be the “proof reader” at the corporation I worked at. I was blessed with the ability to spot errors at a glance. These spelling and grammar errors would seem to pop right off the me.
    It is so discouraging to see so many errors in print and on line. Sometimes you have to wonder if there is any proof reading done at newspapers and news websites.
    Just before I read your posting, I had just wrapped up downloading Grammarly-Lite software. That was some coincidence! I agree with you that writing is an art. If you are not going to try to do it correctly, then maybe one should pick a different career field. Thank you for writing on a topic dear to my heart.


  2. Oh they do!! and they jump up at me (except my own, of course)…the place where they bother me the most is when I find them in information sent from my children’s school…that just makes me want to…well, you know how it feels… read you soon Lynne, great post 🙂

    1. Thanks, and I totally agree. The errors on papers coming home from school are like, um, fingernails on a chalkboard! I have a friend who used to circle the errors with a red pen and send them back to school! LOL! 😉

      1. Ooohhhh that’s something I’d enjoy doing but my children won’t let me!!! Jajaja a fin geranios no a chalkboard EXACTLY 🙂

  3. Hi, Lynne! Thank you for this wonderful piece. I understand that my fingers and eyes can make mistakes sometimes when I write and I try to catch them whenever possible. I like when my husband proof-reads for me, too. I cannot understand how “tenter” and “bon appetite” managed to make it to print without one person noticing, or caring. When there are only a handful of words to proof-read you’d think SOMEONE would catch typos like that!

    I was a Creative Writing major and began my career as a copywriter for the Sears Catalog in the early 1980’s, We had very strict editors, which was a good thing. And, even though I have my own style, such as beginning a sentence with “and”, I never write without my trusty college dictionary and thesaurus. I don’t trust the spelling or thesaurus options on my word processing program.

    Nothing is worse than when a school, teacher, or professor sends my children home with misspelled homework assignments and syllabi.Case in point: “syllabi” is “misspelled” according to my computer, yet it’s in my big, old dictionary,

    1. Leslie Jo, thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I have to agree – I think it does come down to does someone “care.” And good advice with the dictionary! Agreed! Agreed!

      1. Thanks for your reply! My dictionary and thesaurus are in a cabinet directly above my computer for easy access. If I want people to read my blog, I had better do the best job I can. The minute I see a bunch of typos and misspellings in a blog,or an article, I stop reading. I know I make mistakes because of my less-than-slender fingers and because I seem to have forgotten the correct way to type (I type with my pinkies up!), but I try to go back and fix whatever I find. I think those of us who grew up using typewriters and carbon paper can all forgive each other the occasional typo.

  4. Pingback: Spell Check and Double Check Your Content | Self Publishing Daily
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